I figured it out

I think I know what has been bothering me so much about all of this lately.

You see, the grammar of the whole ‘Let’s use “they” to reference a single person,’ idea has really, really bothered me. To be clear, English has a gender neutral, singular pronoun. That pronoun is “it”. No one needs to make up something else, but, oh, wait – someone already did. Years ago, people in the actual communities involved in addressing firsthand situations where male or female identification, for whatever reason, did not work, had already begun using a new word, “zi” (though it might be spelled differently – I have forgotten, and mostly only knew it as a spoken word). Why do I know this? Because I interacted with people who were dealing with this firsthand. I’ve been involved with such people for most of my life. Being respectful of people’s identities is not new to me. Commanding people on how to speak, however, is new to me. (And a touch too Newspeak for me, really…)

Growing up, people simply shared when they wanted to be referenced as something other than as the standard male or female. Sometimes, that meant the person was in transition from one gender to another. Sometimes, it meant the person experienced residence in both genders or neither gender. But that person, or someone sharing about the person, would communicate that clearly to any party, whenever that information was needed. It was usually a really wonderful conversation to have, sharing or learning such information from or about someone.

Now, however, things are not only different, but they feel absurd.

No longer are people merely communicating openly about when they have a request to be referenced differently from the standard. Instead, a very loud part of the population is demanding that, in order not to hurt the feelings of those people, everyone must give up gender identity – we must stop referring to anyone or anything as he/she.

(Because we have to be more careful with the minorities than with the majorities? Are they not strong, wonderful, powerful people? I’ve always experienced them to be so. And I grew up in a world of minorities.)

I do not support this approach. For one thing, I have worked very, very hard to be the woman I am today, to have the relationship I have with my own womanhood. I am not a non-gender. (I am also not plural, but let’s leave the grammar aside for the moment.) I am not gender-neutral. I am a woman. Period. Please, refer to me as such. And yes, it is 100% obvious that I am a woman. But, if someone accidentally called me a “Sir” or a “he” – oh, by the way, that happened plenty when I lived in Japan -, I would not be offended. It would be a mistake or a misunderstanding. It would not be a denial of my womanhood, in exchange for non-womanhood.

The biggest part of this all for me, though, is how it feels like everyone seems to be stepping on eggshells not to upset a very small percentage of the population, simply because another small percentage of the population has been and continues to be horrible to that minority.

It has been the same feeling for me regarding the race equality issues that have been so vocalized this past year+. I grew up in a very diverse county and city, and I have lived in multiple cultures. I’ve been the absolute minority in a culture, even considered to be less-than-human. None of that has mattered much to me, nor has it been under much consideration throughout my life. We are people first. And I grew up honoring and respecting and loving people for who they are. And, before they are homosexual, Asian, trans-gender, or allergic to nuts, they are people. And I honor and love them simply for that. Everything else just adds to the opportunities to love.

And yet, from these loud social voices, I have felt a barrage of demands for me to stop being racist, etc. Yes, there are people who act unkindly to people based on race. Let’s help those people work on that – let’s educate those people on the wonders of humanity and the different races within it. Why is everyone attacking right now? Fighting fire with fire never works, anyway, let alone when the real fire is nowhere near where the fighting is happening.

There are also people who are horrible toward children. There are people who are horrible towards different religions. There are people who are horrible to others, period. There are people who are horrible toward themselves.

I think, rather than attacking the world at large, demanding and commanding them to be anti-something, it would prove most valuable to teach people how to love, how to see value in things they have not come to know yet, how to get to know what they likely fear (the fear being why they have treated it horribly thus far).

The most powerful thing in this world is love. So, why does it feel like the vast majority of these loud voices are not using it? They are missing out on an amazing opportunity by pushing aside love.

Post-a-day 2021

The Lingering Effects of Culture?

I have noticed two behaviors of mine that linger still (and consistently), despite my having been in the USA and out of Japan for almost four months.  They are 1) constantly looking right first before crossing the road, naturally walking to the left, and casually beginning on the left side of the road when riding my bike; and 2) silence.

The first has been improving significantly, and is almost never present when I am driving a car (though those two-lane, small town style, empty roads do make me think twice before I pull out onto them).  It is mostly just my bicycle riding and walking that is still in the habit of Japan’s side.  Seeing as how I am aware of the road-crossing issue every time I approach a road, I feel confident that things will be fine there – even if I must continue constantly checking both directions over and over again, because I don’t trust myself as to from which way the cars actually will be coming on which side.  The second is a bit different.

I wonder if the silence is something about which I need to worry.  I feel like it is no big deal, however, when I look at it from an outside, USA perspective, I seem almost oppressed in the action.  The silence comes in the regular everyday passing of people at work.  I often only smile and nod when we make eye contact, and I regularly say little-to-nothing in group conversations.  Partly, I have no interest in discussing the present topic with the present company most of the time.  However, I wonder if part of that is because I am not accustomed to discussing things with people like I once was.

My distress tied to living in Japan significantly affected my desire and will to learn Japanese.  Therefore, I really didn’t put forth almost any effort in the language beyond the absolute necessary, until I was on the rise from all of the depression, only a few months before my departure.  This means that I was not able to participate in most conversation around me.  Yes, I could understand a good amount of it, and often all of it (though, occasionally almost nothing), but I usually was unable to respond.  It was my first experience with what I previously had only heard other people say they did, and the development of which I couldn’t understand: understanding a language, but not speaking it.

So, I grew incredibly accustomed to speaking very little and to listening a lot.  And this was not a conscious decision, necessarily, though I had intended to observe for the sake of learning all about the culture and language.  My goal was to learn, not to separate and somewhat exclude myself.  Transferring the same behavior over here to the USA, my native country, has the behavior occur quite differently.  As mentioned, I seem somewhat oppressed, like something is preventing me from speaking.  All I notice is a lack of desire to say anything most of the time.  But I also don’t even consider whether I want to speak or not – I just don’t speak…  So, I am wondering about this, whether there is something more there, something in the way for me, preventing me from full self-expression.

 

Post-a-day 2017